A Sampling of Rare Books in University Library's Special Collections
Spring & Summer 1999
Click on a thumbnail image to view selections from the exhibit
The current display in the Special Collections Exhibit Room marks the first exhibit of rare books mounted in the new University Library. These materials represent a sample of valuable, unique, and scholarly editions that have entered the library system since the founding of Middle Tennessee State University in 1911.
The items presented in the Exhibit Room (and the online selection offered here) have come into the library's possession by various avenues. Some were gifts of alumni, faculty, and friends of the University. Among these are editions we can only speculatively identify as books that once belonged in the collections of early settlers, and which probably remained in family libraries for several generations before they were donated to MTSU. These are books that were brought along in the move West, or were purchased from the early printers operating in the new territory, or were ordered from established bookselling firms back East.
Other items on display originally entered the MTSU collection through regular library purchases. Many were second-hand or old books when the University bought them. Although they were not "rare" books when initially purchased, they have over the years become increasingly hard to come by or sought after by collectors, and have thus acquired "special" or "rare" status.
Still other materials on exhibit--again, materials that entered the library through regular purchases--are not "rare" books per se, but scholarly editions that would be difficult or costly to replace. Accordingly, the library has decided to take special care of them. In this group are facsimiles of historic editions. These are books that MTSU faculty use for teaching and research, and that MTSU students can examine in the effort to imagine how readers in the past experienced a text.
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